Recommended daily steps and tips to walk more

Recommended daily steps and tips to walk more

Knowing the number of daily steps may not be enough information. We also need to know how many we need to do in order to meet personal health goals. Even though experts say ten thousand steps is a good figure, why is that number accurate?

Do you have to do 10,000 steps?

Regardless of which wearable fitness device we buy (smartwatch or fitness tracker), 10,000 steps is likely the magic number we have programmed into our device. But why that number? Everything is based on the calculations of the distance traveled.

According to experts, 10,000 steps are equivalent to approximately five miles (8 kilometers). That’s a number that’s said to help reduce certain health conditions, like high blood pressure and heart disease. The daily step count also contributes to the physical recommendation of getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

How many steps should you take a day?

A scientific study found that healthy adults can take approximately 4,000 to 18,000 steps a day, and that 10,000 steps a day is a reasonable goal for healthy adults. If we are looking for a way to compare our daily steps with an activity level, the experts establish the following categories:

  • Inactive: less than 5,000 steps a day
  • Average (somewhat active): ranges from 7,500 to 9,999 steps per day
  • Very active: more than 12,500 steps per day

The number of steps we aim for in a day should be based on our goals. However, it is important not to focus too much on that number, at least at first. The important thing is that we start doing more than we have done before. That is, we will put our energy into increasing movement throughout the day.

Furthermore, there appears to be a significant difference in the average number of steps taken by women and men. From infancy to adulthood, men tend to walk more. As children and adolescents, they walk an average of 12,000 to 16,000 steps a day. Young women, on the other hand, get between 10,000 and 12,000. This trend continues into adulthood.

Number of steps according to objectives

However, the number of recommended daily steps varies depending on our goal. Whether we want to lose weight or seek to improve endurance, the steps we take can vary in number.

Lose weight

If losing a few pounds is your general goal, you’ll want to aim for at least 10,000 steps in a day. Although the exact number is based on factors such as age, gender, and diet, one study found that giving at least 15,000 steps per day correlates with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome.

But if 15,000 steps a day seems like a lofty goal, hitting 10,000 or so will help you lose weight and improve your mood.

Improve fitness level

To improve fitness level, we need to know how many steps we are currently taking in a day. It is recommended to have a pedometer (they are cheaper than wearables) to see how many steps we are taking. We can also use a smartphone, since most have built-in step counters.

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Then we’ll set a goal 500 to 1,000 more steps than our current average. It is suggested to maintain this slight increase for a week or two (or even longer) until we have comfortably adjusted to the change. Then we’ll do another slight increase and repeat the process until we get around 10,000 steps a day.

If our current activity level and step count are on the low end (less than 5,000), we can start by adding 250 to 500 steps per day. The first week, we’ll focus on increasing our step count by 250 every day (or every other day). Once this feels manageable, we’ll add 500 steps a day until we reach 10,000 steps a day.

Maintain current fitness level

If we’re happy with the number of steps we take in a day, the main goal might be to maintain our current fitness level.

But before we settle on this number, we’ll make sure we meet the minimum recommendations for aerobic exercise. According to the World Health Organization, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, or 30 minutes of activity such as walking, five days a week. Luckily, the time we spend exercising counts towards our daily step count.

people walking

Tips to walk more

Now that we know how many steps we need in a day to reach our goal, it’s time to start walking. Depending on your lifestyle and the time available, there are several approaches we can take to add more daily walks. Some creative recommendations to increase your daily step count are:

  • Incorporate a daily walk. If we have enough time, walking 30 to 60 minutes each day should get us a surprising distance.
  • take mini walks. We will divide the day into three parts (morning, afternoon and night) and we will commit to walking for 10 to 15 minutes in each of those moments. At the end of the day, we will have met the recommended 30 minutes of exercise and have taken some serious steps.
  • Speak in person. Instead of IMing or emailing our co-workers, we’ll get up and walk over to their desks.
  • go the wrong way. We will be using a bathroom further away from our office just to increase daily steps.
  • go the extra mile. We will consciously choose to walk a little more whenever we have the option during the day. For example, we will park in an area away from work and walk to the building.
  • Take the stairs. Yes, this is probably the most popular tip when it comes to getting more steps, but this one comes with a twist. Once we reach the expected floor, we will go down and then back up.
  • walk and talk. Whenever possible, we will try to place phone calls where we can walk or pace while talking.
  • Walking during our children’s activities. If we have children who play sports or participate in an activity that requires us to be present, we can walk during their practices instead of sitting and watching.